The headset bearing is a vital part of any bicycle, as it helps to precisely and smoothly rotate the bike’s handlebars. You will know if the bike bearings need to be changed, as the steering will feel gritty and the movement will become jerky and stiff. You may also hear a grinding noise when moving the handlebar.
headset bearings on bicycles do need to be replaced from time to time. Below we share a simple guide on how to remove old headset bearings and how to replace them.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
You will need to assemble all relevant tools. These should include Allen keys, degreaser, old rag, grease and headset bearings.
It is important that you get the correct size internal bearings for your particular model of bike, as different bicycles will have different sized bearings. Aire Velo Bearings have a wide range of bearings that are readily available. Please note that the bearings are in metric sizes, when the cycle industry uses terms like 1”1/8 or 1”1/2 they are referring to the steerer on the forks not the definite size of the headset bearing.
REMOVING THE HEADSET INTERNAL BEARINGS
There are usually two internal bearings located in the bike’s head tube. One is at the bottom while the other is at the top. To remove the bearings, you will firstly need to unscrew the pinch bolts, you will then need to remove the compression rings and dust seals. Just remember the order that you removed them in, so as to make replacing them that much easier, a good tip is to thread them onto a piece of string or tie.
You will now be able to remove the bike’s fork. The bike’s headset bearings will now be able to be removed from the frame. This is now the perfect time in which to add a bit of degreaser, so as to thoroughly clean the inside of the frame. Once this has been done, you are then ready to replace the integrated bearings.
REPLACING THE INTEGRATED BEARINGS
The first thing you will need to do is grease the inside of the headtube where the bearing is seated. You need to replace the lower bearing first, making sure that it is positioned so that it fits correctly into the frame. The fork then needs to be inserted into the head tube of the bike. The top bearing can then be greased and replaced. Once again, you need to ensure that it is positioned correctly into the frame. The compression rings and seals can then be replaced. Then the stem can be replaced. You can then replace the top cap, making sure that it is tightened correctly and takes up any slack. Be sure though to not overtighten this, as this is easily done. If you do, you can damage the bearings.
CHECK THAT THE BEARINGS HAVE BEEN CORRECTLY FITTED
Once the headset bearings have been replaced, it is very easy to check that they have been correctly positioned. Squeeze the front brake lever while gently rocking the bike. If you can feel a knocking or movement then the top cap is not tightened fully. Test how it feels to steer, it should be a fluid movement with no stiffness. If it does not feel right, then you may need to further tighten the top cap. Once you are happy with the feel of the bike, you can then tighten the pinch bolts. Be sure to do a quick test drive to ensure that everything is working as it should.
We hope that this quick guide has been helpful to you. Replacing the headset bearings is a fairly easy task, just be sure to have the correct tools and parts before you begin.